Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

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Brightfall by Jaime Lee Moyer

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Luke Marlowe
Reviewed by Luke Marlowe
Summary: Putting a contemporary twist on a centuries old myth, Brightfall breathes new life into the tale of Robin Hood – bringing Marian to the fore and plunging her into a mystery that threatens the lives of all she loves.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320 Date: September 2019
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1787479203

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Robin Hood is gone – denouncing both his former life and his love Marian, and retreating to a monastery – although no-one knows quite what led him to abandon all that he had built. Marion's life since has been relatively quiet - but when her friends start dying, Marion is tasked by Father Tuck to break the curse surrounding them and to save their lives. Setting off with a soldier, a Fey Lord and a sullen Robin Hood, she becomes tangled in a maze of betrayals, complicated relationships, and a vicious struggle for the throne…

The myth of Robin Hood is an enduring one - at least 700 years old and retold time and time again over the years. When a tale is around for that length of time, it often becomes reinvented by various people – recent years have seen some fairly awful films that have tried to put a modern spin on the tale of Robin Hood, but we've been somewhat luckier in terms of literature, with Angus Donald's Outlaw series retelling the legends and grounding them in a historical reality. In Brightfall, Jaime Lee Moyer takes the myth down a very different path – focusing on Marian and introducing far more fantasy elements than one may find in a traditional retelling of the Robin Hood tale. It's new, refreshing – and works very well indeed.

Marian is a character who is often rather overlooked (apart from Tony Robinson's wonderfully daft Maid Marian and her Merry Men tv series) – positions as both a damsel in distress and a posh bit of totty for the men to fight over but who isn't gifted a huge amount of agenda herself. Moyer turns this fully on its head here, and grants us a strong Marian whose protective nature and special abilities allows her to serve as a capable and relatable lead to guide the reader through the tale. In terms of action, Moyer plunges the reader straight into the thick of things from the outset, but is careful to blend the action with a mix of character interactions and unfolding mysteries that are genuinely engaging - the stakes continually raising until arrival at a climax that's both rewarding and rather emotional. It leaves things open for more stories in this world – and I truly hope that these arrive.

Many thanks to the publishers for the copy, and for further reading I recommend Outlaw by Angus Donald - another retelling of the Robin Hood myth that blends heart, action, and characterisation to bring the inhabitants of Sherwood Forest well and truly into our times.

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